Addressing the challenges of digital transformation

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min read
December 6, 2023
January 18, 2024
Challenges of digital transformation
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Remote working has accelerated digital transformation within the workplace but what pitfalls are there to be aware of?

Over the past few years, the rush towards digitisation has been rapid. With more employees working remotely, employers have invested heavily in new systems to keep their workforce connected. The need to do this as quickly as possible means many organisations now have dozens of systems covering everything from communications, to time and attendance. While these are designed to save employees time, getting digital transformation wrong can mean it has the exact opposite effect.

It is clear that digitalisation is the future and there are huge opportunities to be gained, particularly from AI. This has evolved massively over the last 12 months and promises to develop even faster in the coming year. However, for employers looking to make the most of these, there are also huge pitfalls to negotiate if the past record on digital transformation is anything to go by.

The CIPD study, Workplace Technology: the employee experience carried out during the pandemic, highlights some of the issues:

  • More than 80% of employees don’t think that increased technology has improved business performance
  • 30% say their use of portable devices make it difficult to switch off from work
  • Only 35% of employees or groups representing employees have been consulted on the introduction/implementation of new technology
  • Only 28% of employees have received training to prepare for role changes due to automation

These figures should be top of mind for any business planning a programme of digital transformation if they want to reap the full benefits of their efforts. Here are more pitfalls to avoid:

Bad data leads to bad decisions

Data has become an essential part of business, so much so that it has been called the oil of the twenty-first century. It can tell us so much around everything from customer behaviour to employee engagement, highlighting strengths and weaknesses while pinpointing opportunities and threats.

However, to do all this, the data needs to be clean, accurate and complete. If not, following the data can lead to mistakes, misunderstandings and missteps. Any system is only as good as the data that goes into it, and buying a bright, shiny new tool is only half the answer. A successful digital transformation requires careful attention to be paid to what goes into a new system, to make sure what comes out provides all the intended benefits.

AI needn’t be something to be scared of

One of the topics that is highest on employer’s agenda right now is AI; considering how it will impact jobs, the workplace and society in general. It has the power to remove many of the boring, mundane admin tasks that employees hate. It can make research, analysis and creating content so much quicker, allowing people to complete in minutes what had previously taken hours.

However, AI doesn’t come with a handbook. There are no instructions or precedent for getting its implementation right. It carries with it an aura of fear – employees afraid of losing their jobs in an already volatile employment landscape. Most experts believe AI will be a tool that works alongside employees rather than replacing them - changing their roles, rather than eliminating them.

Employers need to think carefully about AI and not rush in without considering the negatives. They need to take time to educate employees on how to use it, making sure they understand how it can improve their roles, rather than taking their place.

Digital transformation should be a collaborative effort

One thing that employees really dislike is feeling powerless. They hate not being consulted and having new processes or systems imposed on them without warning. They want to know their opinions are valued and their ideas are welcomed.

To make a digital transformation work, employees need to be there at the start of the journey and play an active role along the way. The CIPD’s survey found how valuable this is. It uncovered where employees had not been consulted about technology change, only 20% were positive about it. Where employees had been consulted, this was significantly higher, at 70%.

A digital transformation needs employee support. If they don’t like, understand or even resent a new system or process it will fall flat. Those driving the change need to realise they don’t have all the answers and it is essential they tap into the expertise and insights from their workforce to make it a success.

Building the business case for digital transformation

When putting forward the case for new technology, all these elements need to be included to demonstrate you’ve thought about the change from all angles and you recognise the challenges as well as the benefits.

With something as central as performance management to the success of an organisation, showing how you can involve others in the process and bring them with you is hugely important. Line managers and employees need to embrace it and value it to make it a success.

Our new guide to getting board level buy-in helps you address these areas and our business case template gives you a framework to make sure you put them as persuasively as possible.

Download the pitch deck

Download the business case template

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